One of the most frequent questions we are asked about our dogs is “How much do they eat?”. It’s not the easiest question to answer, because we don’t feed them kibble. Most people who ask the question are expecting a response like “8 cups of kibble per day”. Wait, is that a lot of kibble? I don’t have a clue how much kibble an adult male Leonberger would need! We haven’t fed a commercially prepared diet since the late 1990’s.
Back in the 90’s it was not easy to find information on raw feeding. It wasn’t even easy to find books on the topic, which at that time were mainly the books written by Ian Billinghurst. And the acronym given to raw feeding left a lot to be desired. B.A.R.F. Depending on who you were talking to this either stood for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones And Raw Food. Once I got my hands on copies of Give Your Dog A Bone and Grow Your Pups With Bones I was convinced that this was how I wanted to feed our dogs, and we took the plunge. We immediately stopped feeding kibble and made a clean switch to raw meat and bones. At that time we were feeding our adult male Leonberger, Jaxon, and our adult female Labrador Retriever, Abbey Road.
When we started feeding raw there were also very few sources for food, and we had trouble finding a veterinarian that supported our new feeding protocol. I continued to research, and with more and more information being available on-line I was able to begin sourcing greater variety for our dogs. As for our vet, the proof was in our dogs. Their coats sparkled, their teeth gleamed and their health was great. Many Leonberger owners were getting more and more interested in raw feeding and started switching their dogs, which meant we were able to build a community of raw feeders. As that community grew we were able to support each other and share our experiences.
Today more and more people are feeding raw. Sourcing raw is so much easier, and we are able to feed a wide variety of meats – duck, turkey, chicken, pork, venison, rabbit. We feed green tripe and locally sourced goat milk kefir. The variety is endless, and we are able to source so much of it locally which is very important to me and it helps to support our community. Raw feeding has become more mainstream, and there are now commercially prepared raw foods and dehydrated raw. These options can be very expensive when you’re feeding large dogs. Vets can still be a bit skeptical, but even finding a vet that supports this method of feeding has become easier. Fifteen years ago people would be shocked that we fed raw, but today we find more and more people are interested and asking questions.
So how do I answer the question “How much do they eat?”? My standard response is “they each eat 1 to 3 pounds of a raw meat based diet daily”. I find that if people are interested they’ll ask questions, and we’ll have a great conversation. Maybe they’ll even research the diet for their dog. Some people look shocked or wrinkle their nose or argue that bones kill dogs. I try to gently educate and correct their misconception.
If you are interested in feeding raw you can find additional book resources here. These are books that I have found helpful over the years. If you are looking for local sources of raw food try a Google search. You can also look for raw feeding co-ops in Yahoo groups. There are also many purebred dog breeders who are now rearing their puppies on raw. Both Rutger and Dutch came to us as raw fed puppies, which was not a coincidence! If I can ever answer questions or be of assistance don’t hesitate to contact me via the contact form on our Quiet Stretch Leonbergers page.